President to hold largest indoor gathering since pandemic began
The president is preparing for a massive indoor rally in Tulsa tomorrow. It's believed to be the biggest indoor event since the pandemic shutdown public life.
The line to catch the president’s first rally in months began early this week – and the crowd grows ever larger as supporters stream in from across the country. Meanwhile, the coronavirus caseload in Tulsa and Oklahoma is higher now than at any other point in the pandemic.
"Aren’t you afraid of people getting sick?,” Gray Televisions Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro asked president Trump in a one-on-one interview.
“No, because if you look, the numbers are very minuscule compared to what it was, it’s dying out,” said President Trump. He said overall Oklahoma's caseload remains low compared to other states, noting they chose Tulsa for the rally because of the state's re-opening progress.
Campaign Deputy Communications Director Erin Perrine said they’ll conduct temperature checks, provide hand sanitizer, and give facemasks to the tens of thousands who get into the rally and an overflow watch party.
Wearing masks won’t be mandatory though, and social-distancing may be impossible inside or outside of the venues. "We feel comfortable that we will be having a safe rally for our rally-goers," said Perrine.
“Any rational person… would have concerns about this weekend,” said Tulsa's Republican Mayor G.T. Bynum during a Wednesday press conference.
Bynum said it’s an honor to welcome the president, but any large gathering creates substantial risk for the health of the city and country.
Those organizing Juneteenth celebrations – marking the Friday anniversary of slavery’s end – say their plans will be far safer than the president’s, held outdoors and requiring masks.
“That’s where we see a stark difference," said Nate Morris an orgranizer with Demand a JusTulsa.
Originally-scheduled for Friday, the president delayed his rally following objections to staging it on Juneteenth. Morris said it's still inappropriate to hold the event a day later, especially given the threat of further spreading coronaviurs, which has disproportionately effected people of color.
U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) said critics will always take issue with anything the president does. He praised the president's choice to move his rally back a day and said attending the rally is a personal health choice.
Mullin be bringing his family. "No hesitation," he said when asked about that decision, "how do you miss an opportunity like this? The President of the United States is coming to Oklahoma, that doesn't happen that often."
While Mullin said he has seen the president speak at events before, this will be his first time attending a campaign rally for Trump.
The president’s campaign won’t say exactly what topics he’ll cover on-stage. But, it’s a near-certainty he’ll address the news of the day and questions surrounding his visit.